In "The Dark Knight Rises," Christopher Nolan did something unprecedented. He ended a superhero franchise, which is usually considered an infinitely renewable resource of income for movie studios. His Batman series didn't end in financial mediocrity ("Fantastic Four") or creative differences (Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man"). Nolan set out to put a period on his gritty take on Bruce Wayne and Gotham City and did so.
When a fan-favorite series with an arguably perfect record calls it quits, it's hard to imagine that's really all, folks. Is there a future for Nolan's Batman, or have we seen the end of the legend?
Even if the mastermind walks away, some of Nolan's players have expressed interest in seeing what comes next. Christian Bale even told Empire that he'd "love the challenge of making a fourth one work," but that was prefaced by his belief that "The Dark Knight Rises" is the final Batman movie.
Then Anne Hathaway told Digital Spy that she would like to return to Selina Kyle. "I think it would be lovely to see more of her, but only if it's with the right people," she said. "She lives in this Gotham City, and so it would have to be established by the people who have made this Gotham City. For me, at least."
Which brings us back to Nolan. The director has stood by his hard line that "The Dark Knight Rises" is the end of his Batman story. He told MTV News' Josh Horowitz that the end was the first part of the story he was sure about. "For me, movies are all about knowing the end of the story," he said. "Once I know the end and once I know where it's going, then I know I'm going to climb on that train and make that film; we're really going to do something with it. So it was one of the first things I knew about the project, was how to end the story."
With Nolan so focused on the end of this story, any idea of continuing in this Gotham betrays much of the significance of "Rises." A Selina Kyle spin-off would have implications for Bruce Wayne, and a John Blake film would only feel like a cash grab.
Back in March of last year, Warner Bros. exec Jeff Robinov told Hero Complex that the studio will "have to reinvent Batman" after "The Dark Knight Rises," so all signs are currently pointing in a new direction for the series. Thankfully, Nolan's run ended in such a way that provided some concrete answers to satisfy but enough ambiguity to keep the story running in our imagination after we've left the theater.
Check out everything we've got on "The Dark Knight Rises."